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Health Literacy Resources

Tackling the problem of low health literacy with your patients can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are many resources that can help you to communicate better with your patients. Use the tools available on this page to get started.

Health Literacy Toolkits

Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
US Department of Health and Human Services

This toolkit is designed to help practices take a systematic approach to reducing the complexity of medical care and help more patients succeed.

Ask Me 3
AMA Foundation

Ask Me 3 promotes three simple but essential questions that patients should ask their providers in every health care interaction. Providers should always encourage their patients to understand the answers to:

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?

This site also has many free downloadable resources, such as brochures and posters, for patients and office staff.

CDC Health Literacy Website
This site provides information and tools to improve health literacy and public health. These resources are for all organizations that interact and communicate with people about health.


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Key Reports and Other Resources

Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion
Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report

This report examines the body of knowledge that applies to the field of health literacy and recommends actions to promote a health-literate society.

What Did the Doctor Say? Improving Health Literacy to Protect Patient Safety
Joint Commission

This paper is a call to action for those who influence, develop or carry out policies that will lead the way to resolution of the issue.

Health Literacy in Primary Care: A Clinician's Guide
By Gloria Mayer, RN, EdD, FAAN, and Michael Villaire, MSLM  
ISBN: 978-082610229-4            

Written for the primary care practitioner, the text provides an in-depth view of the issue of health literacy, including definitions of low health literacy, a review of much current research and efforts to quantify the problem.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message          
By Helen Osborne
ISBN-13: 978-0-7637-4550-9

This book is written for busy healthcare professionals who want to learn more about effectively communicating healthcare information. Topics are arranged from A to Z and cover a wide variety of strategies to communicate health messages. Each topic begins with "Starting Points" providing general information, often accompanied by a story or example.

Understanding Health Literacy
By Joanne G. Schwartzberg, MD; Jonathan B. VanGeest,PhD; and Claire C. Wang, MD
ISBN: 978-1-57947-630-4

This resource aims to help physicians and others improve the quality of care for patients; help those in the medical community improve patient communications regarding medications, tests and procedures and informed consent; and guide those in medicine, public health, sociology and medical sociology.

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